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Saturday, February 25, 2012

A piece of the shoulder blade used to save woman's voice

Reconstruction of the voice box using bone obtained from the shoulder blade prevented total  laryngectomy in a patient with a rare form of cancer. This allowed the patient to keep her voice box including the vocal cords. The patient suffered from  a slow-growing cancer in the cricoid cartilage, a ring that supported her voice box. Of the about 50,000 people diagnosed with laryngeal cancer every year in the U.S., less than 1% have this particular form of cancer.
After removing the cancer Dr. Douglas Chepeha at the Univerity of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbour who performed the surgery used part of the 59 years old patient’s shoulder blade cartilage to reconstruct her voice box in a surgery at University Hospital in Ann Arbor. It is the first time this type of surgery has been done successfully. According to the surgeon this advance could help many other patients, including cancer patients with oral cancer, those who lose their voices and premature babies who end up with ruined voice boxes after being on a tracheotomy tube too long.

                        A picture explaining the procedure performed to save the voice box